Four days before I found out I had cancer I had brown hair. Three days before, I was blonde. The drastic appearance change was because my wonderful brother and cousins decided to attack me with bright gold powder after running the Color Run. I was an hour away from being the only one to leave cornstarch-free, but out of the goodness of their hearts they fixed that. The reason I was sparkling clean at one of the messiest events on Earth is because I decided not to run. I didn’t run…because I had cancer. *grimace emoji*
But I didn’t know that at the time. I thought – and so did the two doctors I had seen – that I was experiencing extreme headaches, dizziness, and fatigue because I had a sinus infection. But when the time came that I almost passed out while watering flowers (flowers!) at work, I knew something was probably wrong. So I turned to my bff, WebMd. Then my mom made me turn to an actual medical professional, who calmly reassured me that I did NOT have meningitis (the latest disease I had locked onto), and ordered blood tests for the next morning.
The only problem was, I had to work both at the pool AND at my brand spankin’ new internship that day. My internship with the Pennsylvania Prostate Cancer Coalition. Yeah. Ironic fact #1.
So I had to wake up suuuper early and drive to a medical center to get my blood taken (which I had to fast for so I couldn’t eat after 10:00 pm the night before. Of course, my friends and I decided to meet for ice cream at 9:50, so they all enjoyed making fun of me while I scarfed down as much cotton candy ice cream as I could in 5 minutes), got some breakfast afterwards, then drove to Hershey for my internship.
My job for that day was to man the coalition’s information booth and explain their “Don’t Fear the Finger” Health Literacy Campaign to event guests. The event? Cancer Survivor Day at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center. Ironic Fact #2.
So there I was doing my thing – talking to various cancer survivors, handing out foam fingers (get it? Don’t fear the finger!), and enjoying the excitement of a first day at a new job – when my mom calls and tells me that the nurse practitioner who had ordered the blood test had called her and told her that there were a few more blood tests that I needed to complete. She said that she had called my boss at the pool and told him that I would be late for work, and that I should come home to drive with her back to the med center. So I finished out my shift at the hospital and headed home.
Ironic Fact #3? I spent my entire shift sitting DIRECTLY next to the booth for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. Life was sending me a sign as bright and shiny as a broadway marquee, and it had thrown subtlety out the window.